The Beacon Bowl opened in 1955 and was a bustling social space along Lincoln Way West. Business was so good in the early 1970s that the building expanded from 30 to 54 bowling lanes. Meeting space and party rooms were added to host a variety of community events. Over 100 local kids participated in the youth bowling program, and Dickenson Intermediate Fine Arts Academy (located directly south of the Beacon) utilized the building as extra PE space for students during the day.
This community ethos remained strong right up to the Beacon’s closing in March 2007, when the building shut down the bowling lanes for the final time after the annual Big Brothers Big Sisters’ fundraiser. All of the lanes and mechanical systems were removed from the building soon after it was put up for sale.
In 2011, Riverside Church, a local church with a passion for the west side of South Bend, purchased the building though the support of an anonymous donor. Not interested in converting it to a traditional “church space,” the leadership of the church incorporated a nonprofit entity—the Beacon Resource Center—to manage the building and determine its future. Local community leaders formed The Beacon Advisory Team and brought together nonprofits, schools, and local residents to identify central neighborhood needs not being met by existing efforts. The central question was: How can the building again be used to serve the surrounding neighborhood?
Immediately one need was identified unanimously: space. The provision of multipurpose space for the community now drives The Beacon’s mission and vision.